This is the first highlight in a series about upcoming festival participants. I'm going to write personal reflections because they're easier and also because that's the kind of literary festival we put on stage: personable, intimate, and surprisingly casual given the pedigree of the speakers. Just a reminder: the upcoming festival (Writing Sin Fronteras) is October 4–6, 2019.
We, the committee members that put on the festival, have a very awkward acronym to deal with: SWFWW. Sometimes we call ourselves Swiffies or Swiffoos, but nothing has really stuck. At any rate, I'm a Swiffy who isn't a writer, although I have a bit of experience in organizing interdisciplinary events. This actually makes it easier for me to get things done: I pretty much do what others recommend and try and make sure it's done in a timely way. In a more voluntary manner we all step up to help moderate the sessions and there is one event I always want for my own: Peter Riva's individual presentation.
Peter Riva is an American literary agent and producer. That's like saying "Van Gogh is an artist." Here is Peter's Wikipedia page here so you can get the official version of some of his accomplishments. I really wouldn't care if his only recognized client was Chuckles the Clown: he is 100% entertaining. (Warning: I used to watch C-SPAN so I could admire Michael McCurry, President Clinton's Press Secretary, handling information and questions.) Peter can give an hour-long presentation without notes and speak factually and anecdotally and, most importantly, authoritatively, about the current state of publishing throughout the world. It's like standing in a broad mountain stream with a master fly-fisherman who has been working those waters all his life: the water rushes by as he points out what has, what may, and what will happen, and under what conditions. I wish he ran an art gallery, then I'd be sure to have one heckuva rep, if he chose to take me on.
There's a bit of urgency in his talks. He gets to something vital: the premium us mortals must put on time. He especially respects the time it takes to create literature and therefore doesn't waste yours in describing the marketing of it.
One thing that sets SWFWW apart: we don't have to go far for talent. Riva epitomizes this. You can find him at a harvest festival in his native town of Gila, just up the road from Silver City, chatting with friends and accompanied by his two dogs (like Peter, they are gregarious and engaging) or coming into Silver for lunch. We feature him whenever his schedule permits because, well, he's brilliant at what he does and he is right here.So I'm a fan of Peter Riva's and I'll be there moderating his session. Hope to see you there as well.
—Paul Hotvedt, Executive Director, Southwest Festival of the Written Word
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